Yesterday a friend asked me how do courage and fear play a role in my parenting? He wanted to know how fear affected my behaviour and how I used courage to deal with that fear.
I thought about it for a while and realized that I have rarely experienced fear as a parent. I experience fear all the time in my life, make no mistake about it!
I’m afraid when dealing with people, I’m afraid when facing challenges, I’m even afraid to call my cell phone company to complain about my phone. I am afraid people won’t like me, I am afraid of a whole crap load of things.
But somehow in my parenting I have not experienced much fear. So I had to think about why this was so.
I came to the realization that becoming a father was very much like situations I have faced in my life when I have been called upon to protect people who are in trouble.
For example one day I was sitting in the Starbucks enjoying a Frappuccino. All of a sudden I heard yelling at the cash. I looked up to see man raising his voice and shaking his fist at the young womyn behind the counter.
I did not interfere because it was none of my business. But as an aware person I kept one eye on the situation.
The man was holding a cup of hot tea in his hand and he became so angry at one point that he started threatening to throw the tea on the girls behind the counter.
The instant that this danger appeared I was out of my seat and standing in front of the man with my hands up.
I moved so fast and so unconsciously I do not even remember walking from my chair to the counter.
I looked into the man’s eyes and immediately felt calm. My main concern was that I was now his focus and I was between the cup of hot tea and the cashier.
As the man turned his attention to me and kept on yelling I realized he had spilled some tea on his hand and burned it quite badly.
He was looking for a napkin, but there were none in the whole Starbucks. They had completely run out and he was freaking because he had burned his hand and couldn’t do anything.
I suppose in the panic of the burn he didn’t think to wipe it on his shirt. But thats how it goes in moments like that.
So this man is now yelling at me and I can see that he is not far from wanting to throw that tea in my face.
I looked into his eyes and I said to him “my friend I am so sorry that you spilled that tea on your hand. I know it must hurt a lot and I feel bad for you. You do not deserve to suffer that pain.”
I also said that it was important for him to realize the womyn behind the counter had nothing to do with the fact that he spilled the tea nor did they have anything to do with the lack of napkins in the Starbucks.
I am quite certain it was not any of their responsibilities to order them and they had no way of knowing that you were going to spill hot tea on your hands.
At this point he started swearing at me and asked “who the F are you?”
I just said to him “I am a friend”
he said “you’re not my friend”
and I looked them in the eye and I said “yes sir I am and you have to leave to Starbucks now. Go home, put ice on your hand and take care of yourself. You deserve to take care of yourself and not you’re not doing that by being here.”
He just looked at me trying to figure me out and then he sighed, relaxed his shoulders, turned around and walked out of the cafe.
I just walked back to my seat calmly as if nothing had happened and the cashiers came over to me. They started shaking my hand and thanking me. I realized that this was probably a big deal to them that I had intervened.
The entire time this was going on I was not afraid. I had no thought for myself whatsoever. I didn’t need courage because there was no fear to overcome.
I knew with absolute certainty that I would be successful in my attempt at removing him from the Starbucks. I did not know 100% that it would be a non-violent eviction, but I knew let’s say 90%!
But I did know that my entire purpose of that moment was to protect those people and to reach out to this man in his pain.
When my daughter was born I entered this same state. I knew that I was here to protect her, to build her up and inspire her to be the best person she could be.
That feeling came upon me, that fearless state where I took no thought for myself and it has persisted until this day.
I am quite certain most of you parents reading this know that feeling.
It is true that I worry about her at times when she is going through difficult situations. But I am Not Afraid for I know I have given her everything that I had. All the love and all the wisdom that is in me.
I know that as she walks out into the world to create her own life she has a solid foundation to guide her through whatever the world throws at her.
I was glad he asked that question. It helped me to make the connection between those experiences. Unconscious, fearless, selfless service. Definitely a goal to aspire to.